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Every computer should be connected to a good surge suppressor, and preferably a UPS. A surge suppressor is a device that absorbs abnormally high voltages that can damage a computer. You plug the surge suppressor into a wall outlet and plug the computer and other peripherals such as monitor and printer into it. A UPS is a device that provides a battery backup to keep your computer running for a few minutes in case of a power failure. Except for very expensive models, UPSs provide power just long enough to allow the user to save work and shut down the computer—most can do this automatically. The advantage to this is the prevention of lost data, and the capability of allowing users to work uninterrupted in the event of very brief power failures. Most or all UPSs provide surge suppression, so you don't need a separate surge suppressor. Most or all UPSs also provide brownout protection—that is, they take over from the wall outlet and supply power when the wall voltage dips below a minimum acceptable level.
There are hundreds of outlet strips available for less than $10, even as low as $2 or $3. Except in very rare instances, these provide little or no protection. When selecting a surge suppressor and/or UPS, there are many things to consider.
For both UPSs and surge suppressors:
The needed number of regular outlets and, for transformers, widely spaced outlets.
The necessary specifications. For an instructive article, go to howstuffworks.com/ surge-protector.htm.
For UPSs only:
The amount of time you need the system to continue to run after the power fails.
Add up the total wattage of the computer, monitor, and other essential peripherals, and make sure the UPS is designed to work with at least that amount of wattage.
In most UPSs, some outlets have battery backup and some have surge suppression only. Make sure that you have enough backed-up outlets to serve your purposes.
It is nearly impossible to protect against a direct lightning strike. By having a good computer grade surge protector installed between all equipment and the outlets including the telephone and network connections, you will minimize your risk of loss. If you are going to be leaving the computer equipment unused for an extended period, it is safest to unplug everything from the outlets, thus eliminating the risk altogether.
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